Xoloitzcuintli, The Hounds of Hell

Movieverse. Written for Lexie in the 2008 Yuletide Fanfiction exchange.

Elizabeth Sherman looked around the dirty, overcrowded bedroom. Through the smelly cigar smoke that filled the air, she watched the large red demon named Hellboy pump iron. She was obviously disgusted, but this time it had nothing to do with the state of the room.

"Manning's sending me to Texas again," she finally said, breaking the silence.

"Crap." It sounded somewhere between a question and a statement.

"I bet it's some cow mutilations. Again."

"I bet Pop loves that," Hellboy mumbled, between the exertion of pumping iron and chewing on the nub of a cigar. As soon as the words crossed his lips, Hellboy paused, mid-crunch. Cautiously, he looked across the room at Liz as she petted one of Hellboy's cats. Her expression quickly turned from disgust to depression and disappointment. Hellboy's heart sank a little, realizing he had said exactly the wrong thing.

It was painfully obvious that he was sending Liz out on a low priority case. Again. And they both realized that she'd probably be accompanied by Professor Broom. Again.

It wasn't often that Agent Manning, the head of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) sent agents into the field alone. He sometimes did the highest priority ones - the ones that Hellboy worked on. But that was usually by Hellboy's own request.

But this was different. He usually sent agents out solo on the lowest priority cases. So sending Liz out on a low priority case, like animal mutilations, was one thing. Sending her out on the case with a chaperone was another.

"I'll talk to him," Hellboy said confidently. He tried to brush aside the fact that he had just implied that Professor Broom, their adoptive father, would be babysitting Liz.

"What are you going to say, HB? Stop giving Liz the worst assignments?"

"Among other things." Hellboy resumed his weight lifting, once again making light of his slip up.

"Yeah. That will help."

Liz appreciated his concern, but knew that it would only make matters worse. Of everyone at the Bureau, Hellboy was most like her big brother - overprotective, and always ready to stand up for her. That relationship was reassuring when she first came to the Bureau, as a young teen. Then, she had just lost her entire family in a fire she had inadvertently caused with her emerging pyrotechnic powers. Back then, it was comforting to know that some semblance of a family existed for her at the BPRD. But now, as a grown woman, the last thing she wanted was protection. Or a patronizing colleague.

"At least you get out of this place once in a while," Hellboy continued, still mumbling through his teeth as he smoked his cigar. "Without being escorted around in a big garbage truck!"

"Yeah. Well, at least you get treated like an agent."

Once again, Hellboy paused, mid-crunch. He looked over at Liz again, this time more concerned than ever. His little sister was grown up. And for the first time, Hellboy truly noticed.